Here’s What Won At The Emmys Last Night!


Last night, Lisa Marie did not watch the Emmys because she says that, “I’m just not feeling TV this year.”  If Twin Peaks had been eligible to be nominated, I bet it would have been a different story!

Instead, she asked me to watch the ceremony and let everyone know what I thought.  It needed less politics and more cats.

Here’s the list of winners:

COMEDY

BEST COMEDY SERIES
“Atlanta”
“Black-ish”
“Masters of None”
“Modern Family”
“Silicon Valley”
“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
X — “Veep”

BEST COMEDY ACTRESS
Pamela Adlon, “Better Things”
Jane Fonda, “Grace and Frankie”
Allison Janney, “Mom”
Ellie Kemper, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
X — Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”
Tracee Ellis Ross, “Black-ish”
Lily Tomlin, “Grace and Frankie”

BEST COMEDY ACTOR
Anthony Anderson, “Black-ish”
Aziz Ansari, “Master of None”
Zach Galifianaks, “Baskets”
X — Donald Glover, “Atlanta”
William H. Macy, “Shameless”
Jeffrey Tambor, “Transparent”

BEST COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Vanessa Bayer, “Saturday Night Live”
Anna Chlumsky, “Veep”
Kathryn Hahn, “Transparent”
Leslie Jones, “Saturday Night Live”
Judith Light, “Transparent”
X — Kate McKinnon, “Saturday Night Live”

BEST COMEDY SUPPORTING ACTOR
Louie Anderson, “Baskets”
X — Alec Baldwin, “Saturday Night Live”
Tituss Burgess, “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”
Ty Burrell, “Modern Family”
Tony Hale, “Veep”
Matt Walsh, “Veep”

BEST COMEDY DIRECTING
X — “Atlanta” (“B.A.N.”)
“Silicon Valley” (“Intellectual Property”)
“Silicon Valley” (“Server Error”)
“Veep” (“Justice”)
“Veep” (“Blurb”)
“Veep” (“Groundbreaking”)

BEST COMEDY WRITING
“Atlanta” (“B.A.N.”)
“Atlanta” (“Streets on Lock”)
X — “Master of None” (“Thanksgiving”)
“Silicon Valley” (“Success Failure”)
“Veep” (“Groundbreaking”)
“Veep” (“Georgia”)

DRAMA

BEST DRAMA SERIES
“Better Call Saul”
“The Crown”
X — “The Handmaid’s Tale”
“House of Cards”
“Stranger Things”
“This is Us”
“Westworld”

BEST DRAMA ACTRESS
Viola Davis, “How to Get Away with Murder”
Claire Foy, “The Crown”
X — Elisabeth Moss, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Keri Russell, “The Americans”
Evan Rachel Wood, “Westworld”
Robin Wright, “House of Cards”

BEST DRAMA ACTOR
X — Sterling K. Brown, “This is Us”
Anthony Hopkins, “Westworld”
Bob Odenkirk, “Better Call Saul”
Matthew Rhys, “The Americans”
Liev Schreiber, “Ray Donovan”
Kevin Spacey, “House of Cards”
Milo Ventimiglia, “This is Us”

BEST DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Uzo Aduba, “Orange is the New Black”
Millie Bobby Brown, “Stranger Things”
X — Ann Dowd, “The Handmaid’s Tale”
Chrissy Metz, “This is Us”
Thandie Newton, “Westworld”
Samira Wiley, “The Handmaid’s Tale”

BEST DRAMA SUPPORTING ACTOR
Jonathan Banks, “Better Call Saul”
David Harbour, “Stranger Things”
Ron Cephas Jones, “This is Us”
Michael Kelly, “House of Cards”
X — John Lithgow, “The Crown”
Mandy Patinkin, “Homeland”
Jeffrey Wright, “Westworld”

BEST DRAMA DIRECTING
“Better Call Saul” (“Witness”)
“The Crown” (“Hyde Park Corner”)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (“The Bridge”)
X — “The Handmaid’s Tale” (“Offred”)
“Homeland” (“America First”)
“Stranger Things” (“Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”)
“Westworld” (“The Bicameral Mind”)

BEST DRAMA WRITING
“The Americans” (“The Soviet Division”)
“Better Call Saul” (“Chicanery”)
“The Crown” (“Assassins”)
X — “The Handmaid’s Tale” (“Offred”)
“Stranger Things” (“Chapter One: The Vanishing of Will Byers”)
“Westworld” (“The Bicameral Mind”)

MOVIE/LIMITED SERIES

BEST LIMITED SERIES
X — “Big Little Lies”
“Fargo”
“Feud: Bette and Joan”
“Genius”
“The Night Of”

BEST TV MOVIE
X — “Black Mirror: San Junipero”
“Christmas of Many Colors”
“The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks”
“Sherlock: The Lying Detective”
“The Wizard of Lies”

BEST MOVIE/MINI ACTRESS
Carrie Coon, “Fargo”
Felicity Huffman, “American Crime”
X — Nicole Kidman, “Big Little Lies”
Jessica Lange, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Susan Sarandon, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Reese Witherspoon, “Big Little Lies”

BEST MOVIE/MINI ACTOR
X — Riz Ahmed, “The Night Of”
Benedict Cumberbatch, “Sherlock: The Lying Detective”
Robert De Niro, “The Wizard of Lies”
Ewan McGregor, “Fargo”
Geoffrey Rush, “Genius”
John Turturro, “The Night Of”

BEST MOVIE/MINI SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Judy Davis, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
X — Laura Dern, “Big Little Lies”
Jackie Hoffman, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Regina King, “American Crime”
Michelle Pfeiffer, “The Wizard of Lies”
Shailene Woodley, “Big Little Lies”

BEST MOVIE/MINI SUPPORTING ACTOR
Bill Camp, “The Night Of”
Alfred Molina, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
X — Alexander Skarsgard, “Big Little Lies”
David Thewlis, “Fargo”
Stanley Tucci, “Feud: Bette and Joan”
Michael Kenneth Williams, “The Night Of”

BEST MOVIE/MINI DIRECTING
X — “Big Little Lies”
“Fargo” (“The Law of Vacant Places”)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (“And the Winner Is”)
“Genius” (“Einstein: Chapter One”)
“The Night Of” (“The Art of War”)
“The Night Of” (“The Beach”)

BEST MOVIE/MINI WRITING
“Big Little Lies”
X — “Black Mirror: San Junipero”
“Fargo” (“The Law of Vacant Places”)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (“And the Winner Is”)
“Feud: Bette and Joan” (“Pilot”)
“The Night Of” (“Call of the Wild”)

VARIETY/REALITY

BEST REALITY COMPETITION PROGRAM
“The Amazing Race”
“Amercan Ninja Warrior”
“Project Runway”
“RuPaul’s Drag Race”
“Top Chef”
X — “The Voice”

BEST VARIETY TALK SERIES
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live”
X — “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
“Late Late Show with James Corden”
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert”
“Real Time with Bill Maher”

BEST VARIETY SKETCH SERIES
“Billy on the Street”
“Documentary Now”
“Drunk History”
“Portlandia”
X — “Saturday Night Live”
“Tracey Ullman’s Show”

BEST VARIETY SERIES DIRECTING
“Drunk History”
“Jimmy Kimmel Live”
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert”
X — “Saturday Night Live”

BEST VARIETY SERIES WRITING
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”
X — “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”
“Late Night with Seth Meyers”
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Film Review: Everest (dir by Baltasar Kormákur)


Everest_poster

If I wasn’t already scared of heights, I definitely would be after seeing Everest.

Based on a true story, Everest tells the story of two expeditions attempting to climb to the top of Mt. Everest.  One expedition is led by a New Zealander named Rob Hall (Jason Clarke), an experienced climber who, we’re told, pretty much invented the entire industry of taking commercial expeditions up to the top of Mt. Everest.  Criticized by some for being a “hand holder” who gets too emotionally involved with his clients and, as a result, cheapens the Everest “experience” by helping weaker clients make it to the top of the summit, Rob is married to a fellow climber, Jan Arnold (Keira Knightley).  While Rob tries to lead his clients to the highest place on Earth, the pregnant Jan stays home and waits for his return.

The other expedition is led by Scott Fischer (Jake Gyllenhaal).  Scott and Rob are friendly rivals, with Scott taking a much more hands off approach to his clients.  (It’s not a coincidence that Rob’s company is called Adventure Consultants while Scott works for Mountain Madness.)

Everest details what happens when the two expeditions are both caught in a sudden blizzard and find themselves trapped at the top of Everest.  The rest of the film is about the attempts of a stranded few to make it back to civilization.  A few make it, though not without suffering a good deal of pain and, in one particularly case, sacrificing a few body parts as a result.  Tragically, several others fall victim to the whims of nature, some dying of hypothermia while others, hallucinating from the lack of oxygen, literally walk off the side of the mountain.

Everest is one of those films where men die tragically but we’re supposed to find some sort of comfort from the fact that they died doing what they loved.  To be honest, I usually have a hard time buying into these type of narratives.  For instance, I love shopping but I wouldn’t expect anyone to be happy for me if I died while looking for a new purse.  (In fact, that’d probably upset me if not for the fact that I’d be too dead to know about it.)  At the same time, guys seems to love movies like this and I think, in the future, Everest will probably be remembered for being the epitome of a guy movie.

And that’s not meant to be a criticism on my part!  Everest does what it does with a lot of skill and confidence.  It’s an exciting film that, once the disaster hits, will leave you breathless.  And yes, at the end of the film, I did shed a tear or two.  Narratively, there’s really not a surprising moment to be found in the entire film.  I went into Everest not even knowing it was a true story and I was still able to guess who would survive and who would not.  But Everest‘s amazing visuals make up for the predictable narrative.  The term “visually stunning” is probably overused (especially by me!) but Everest is truly a visually stunning film.  For someone like me — who has asthma, a huge fear of heights, and who lives in North Texas (where, regardless of what you may see in the movies, the land is remarkably flat) — Everest is probably as close as I’ll ever get to climbing a mountain.

I should also mention that it never ceases to amaze me that Josh Brolin was born in Santa Monica, California because, on the basis of this film and No Country For Old Men, he is one of the most convincing Texans to appear in the movies.  In this film, he plays Beck Weathers, a Dallas doctor who is a member of Rob’s expedition team.  Usually, of course, if a Texan (especially one who is specifically identified as being a Republican, as Beck is at the beginning of a film) shows up in a movie, you know he’s going to end up being the villain.  Fortunately, Everest was based on a true story and, as a result, Beck turned out to be one of the most compelling characters in the film.  (If you know the story behind the film, you already knew that.  However, I went into Everest blind.)  Josh Brolin brings a lot of strength to his role and to the film overall.

Everest may predictable but it’s still an exciting film.  Make sure that you have someone beside you to whom you can hold on and that you see it in 3D!

Trash Film Guru Vs. The Summer Blockbusters : “Now You See Me”


now_you_see_me_xlg

Maybe it’s unfair to saddle director Louis (Transporter) Leterrier’s new-ish “caper” drama Now You See Me with the “blockbuster” label, since it obviously doesn’t have the budget (or hype machine surrounding it) of an Iron Man 3 or a  Man Of Steel, but its surprisingly healthy take at the box office in recent weeks has it hedging into “blockbuster” territory in terms of its gross ticket receipts, it’s got a “blockbuster”-caliber cast, and it definitely falls into the category of lightweight, fun, summer entertainment, so — let’s just roll with it.

And let’s not take that “lightweight, fun, summer entertainment” statement as a jab, either, please, because Now You See Me is a solid little piece of film-making that anyone associated with it can (and should) be damn proud of. It’s just not particularly “deep” in any thematic sense.

But so what? It’s been awhile since Hollywood served us up a good “caper”-style thriller — the last genuinely superb one that comes to mind is Roger Donaldson’s criminally-underappreciated The Bank Job, and that’s getting to be a good few years ago now — and even though this is a film that doesn’t aim for the same level of “ooh”s and “aah”s of the latest Marvel or DC celluloid comic-book adaptation, it’s got more genuine heroics than most of them, and is every bit as finely-calculated a crowd-pleaser as anything they’ve sent down the pipeline in recent years, as well.

The all-star cast definitely helps to elevate a script that at times belabors its points with admittedly necessary but occasionally clumsy “info-dump” scenes and features a smattering of dialogue that can best be described as “clunky,” and while none of the actors involved are exactly stretching their abilities into new and unexplored territory, there’s something to be said for knowing what the folks you hire are best at doing and then getting out of the way and letting them do it.

To that end, Jesse Eisenberg tackles his role as fast-talking, arrogant illusionist J. Daniel Atlas with aplomb; Woody Harrelson delivers a solid, workman-like piece of acting as mentalist Merritt McKinney; Isla Fisher gives us a nice turn as former-magician’s-assistant-turned-headliner Henley Reeves; Dave Franco projects cool confidence as safe-cracker/lock-picker/con artist extraordinaire Jack Wilder; Mark Ruffalo gives another “believable everyman” performance as Special Agent Dylan Rhodes, the man tasked with somehow getting some charges to stick on our intrepid foursome, who have come together and billed themselves as “The Four Horsemen,” after they apparently rob a bank in front of a Las Vegas show audience (or do they?); Michael Caine gives it his usual grade-A “go” as the group’s  multi-millionaire benefactor/promoter/future victim; Morgan Freeman essentially plays himself in his guise as Through The Wormhole host, albeit with quantum physics being replaced with magic trick “debunking” as his gig; Melanie Laurent cuts a satisfying European-woman-of-mystery figure as Alma Dray, Ruffalo’s reluctant Interpol partner/potential love interest — heck, there are even notable minor performances here from Michael Kelly and Common as two of the cops who are down a few rungs on the investigative totem pole.

It’s not like the film doesn’t have any sort of statement to make about the general state of the world, either — to the contrary, “The Four Horsemen” take great pride in ripping off those who have ripped off society, and represent the kind of folk heroes the world could surely use in the wake of the mortgage crisis and the atrocious Wall Street bailout it gave birth to. Think of them as modern-day Robin Hoods with a flair for the dramatic and plenty of  flat-out amazing tricks up their sleeves.

Still, the art of deception being the constant theme here, don’t be shocked if the reasons for our protagonists’ “crimes” turn out to be a lot more personal than they first appear to be (hey, I did say this movie wasn’t particularly “deep,” remember? Not even when it looks like it might be.) . I think I’ll just leave it at that, which might even be saying a little too much already.

Leterrier, as we’ve come to expect, keeps things moving at a fairly expert clip, throws in some nifty little visual tricks along the way, and most definitely delivers the goods in the film’s more action-heavy scenes, and while he handles the script’s quasi-trippy/metaphysical conclusion quite nicely in my view, I think a lot of folks will still find it a bridge too far, and frankly, for a movie that’s all about sleight of hand, you’ll still most likely see the “surprise character revelation” at the end coming from a mile off.

But ya know what?  This is such an expertly-crafted piece of populist entertainment that I don’t think you’ll mind its admittedly-glaring weaknesses, simply because you’ll be too busy smiling from ear to ear. And that, perhaps, is its greatest trick of all.

There will surely be better films than Now You See Me released in 2013. Heck, there already have been. But I doubt there will be any that are more fun.

Review: Chronicle (by Josh Trank)


“Found footage” films have become all the rage of late. Many attribute this to the extreme popularity of the Paranormal Activity films of the last couple years, but I like to think it goes even farther than that. Even before the aforementioned horror series we got the found footage horror of both the Spanish horror series [Rec] and it’s Americanized version with Quarantine. One thing which we haven’t gotten to see use this style of storytelling is the superhero genre which still continues to go strong. Filmmaker Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis (Masters of Horror: Deer Woman) solve this lack of superhero/found footage film with their surprisingly well-made Chronicle.

The film begins with one of three high school seniors, the shy and troubled Andrew (played by Dane DeHaan), testing out his new video camera. We learn through this first ten or so minutes of the film that his only friend in school is his own cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and that his plans for the new camera is to videotape everything that goes on through his day at school and at home. We learn much about Andrew during these first minutes of the film. We see that his home life consists of him worrying about his very sick mother and trying to avoid the wrath of his drunken, abusive father. School life is not any much better as he’s bullied by other classmates and seen as a non-entity by the rest outside of his cousin Matt. It is his cousin who invites him to a rave party in one scene which will lead up to the two meeting up with a third high school senior, the very popular Steven (payed by Michael B. Jordan), and their discovery of something strange in deep in the woods.

We never get any full explanation as to the origin of the mysterious object the three teens find underground, but all we know afterwards is how it’s given Andrew, Matt and Steven the ability to move things with their minds. This new found ability is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg as all three learn more about their new found powers. Matt figures out that their power is like a muscle and constant use just strengthens and enhances what they’re able to do. All three react to having superpowers as all high school teenagers would when confronted with such a situation: they become giddy boys behaving badly.

They test out their powers on the unsuspecting public at the local mall parking lot and stores. It’s all pretty much harmless, teenage fun until an accident caused by Andrew shows all three the inherent dangers in their new abilities. Matt wants ground rules in how they use their powers with Steven following suit, but Andrew doesn’t understand why the need for them even though he’s remorseful of what he had caused. It’s the beginning of small cracks in the relationship between the three teens that would widen as the film moves into it’s second half with less joy and lighthearted fun and more darkness as one of the three begins to act out on his troubles both at home and in school.

Chronicle could almost be a coming-of-age story in addition to being an origins story that superhero films seem required to do. We see Matt, the cousin, grow from being the wannabe intellectual into someone genuinely caring about what is happening to his introverted cousin Andrew. Steven, the popular football captain and student body president, learns more about Andrew and how he his new friend’s troubled upbringing concerns him enough to try and bring Andrew out from his protective shell and make him more confident about himself. With Andrew we see a teenager who many would feel much sympathy for. He’s the kid who symbolizes the turmoil a growing teen must go through both emotionally and psychologically. Whether it’s rebelling from familial authority or trying to survive the dangerous waters of high school life. We can see ourselves in Andrew’s shoes and his reaction to finally having the ability to fight back against those who have made his life a living hell feed our own fantasies as teenagers to be able to do the same.

All of this would be moot if the film ended up being uninteresting, bland and boring. Fortunately the film doesn’t end up being any of those three. What we get is a fun and thrilling film which takes both the superhero genre and the found footage gimmick and adds some new wrinkles that combines towards a fresh new take on both. Found footage films have the unenviable task of convincing the audience that we’d believe someone would be lugging around a camera all the time and find ways to videotape every moment to create a believable narrative. It’s a leap in logic that will sink or swim these types of films. With Chronicle we see how their new abilities solves this particular dilemma in found footage stories. Being able to move things with one’s mind should make it easy to film yourself without having to hold the camera and instead have it floating and following one around.

The film also does a great job in building up these characters into believable ones with their own back stories and motivations. We’re not left with basic cutouts of what we think teenagers are in films. Max Landis’ screenplay goes a long way in turning these three into real teenagers and their reactions in their new powers were quite believable. How else would teen boys react to finding out they’re now superheroes, but behave badly and use them not for the benefit of others but to have fun.

The film could easily have gone the route of making them want to start helping others (though in Steven’s case he does try to help Andrew become more outgoing through the use of his abilities), but that would’ve felt disingenuous and unrealistic. Even the film’s dialogue seemed to flow naturally without having to resort to witty teen-speak that some writers think teen conversations are full of. It helps that the performances of the three actors playing the three teens came off as well-done. Dane DeHaan as the troubled Andrew comes off looking best of all three with his reactions to his own personal troubles coming off as real and not as some young actor trying too hard to try and impress.

For a found footage film Chronicle does a great job in recreating the look and feel of the three teens superpowers. Whether it’s moving things around with their mind or flying through the sky, the film makes each and every act look like something that could happen for real. The scenes of destruction which encompasses the climactic sequence of the film look very realistic and on the small-budget (when compared to most superhero films) come off as very impressive. The technique of each scene being part of video camera footage (whether they’re handheld HD cameras or smartphone footages) allowed for whatever CGI-effect used to look seemless and not artificial looking.

January and February have always been the dumping ground for films the studios either have little faith in or think don’t deserve the much more lucrative summer blockbuster and holiday season months. Chronicle manages to make its case that this would’ve been one film that could’ve done well playing around with the mega-budgeted blockbusters this summer and hold it’s own. It’s a film that takes a simple premise and creates something not just fun and exciting, but also takes a delve into the psyche of the teenage mind and all the pitfalls and dangers one can find themselves in navigating through it. Chronicle is one of the better films in these early months of the 2012 film season and overall probably one of the better one’s by year’s end.